Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Monday, May 16, 2005

"robust" would be how I'd describe the past weekend that started w/me falling asleep at 9:30PM Friday and not waking until 12 hours later. call it needed b/c I needed it. so Saturday became the home improvement day I had been looking forward to and I did accomplish some things and felt damn good about it. as evening approached I started thinking about the PINE*am show I was headed to around the 10 O'clock hour. then it dawned on me that I had forgotten about the Japan Girl Nite tour!

JGN by Benton Label occurs around the same time as SXSW. I checked the site and sure enough I missed the damn thing (obviously, since SXSW is in March). I was seriously deflated since last years event was so incredibly cool and entertaining. this year the line-up of Japanese girl punk bands were new to the tour ('cept the headliner, Petty Booka) so it would've been an opportunity to catch these acts and buy merch otherwise difficult or impossible to get. yeah, I was not in a great mood upon realizing this major oversight. and I'm still not over it.
pull the rabbit ears by PINE*am
so anyways I pick myself up and head to Wicker Park to see the 3 Japanese girls known as PINE*am. I'm dreading the trip b/c according to the posted tourdates they are not performing in any typical club or venue; they playing in someone's fucking apartment! this was new to me and I'm not real cool w/the unknown factor shit. so I drive around looking for parking and realize it's not doing on a Saturday nite in the heart of Wicker Park teeming w/all sorts, coming and going. I'm really not a people person so naturally that insect of reservation buzzed around my ears and I began thinking about turning back and just saying, 'fuck it'.

fortunately rationality took hold and I parked the car farther than I wanted and hoofed down to six corners looking for the "apartment". turns out it's only a few doors down from the Double Door so I follow a couple up the stairs to the 2nd floor, where my identity was questioned (the couple in front of me had "recognized" faces). after paying my six dollar donation, the strange man in the chair opens the door and everything I imagined the place to be became a reality.

sure enough it was an apartment cum art space (RE: shithole). it was cleared out save for a few ratty old couches and walls covered with prints and photocopies and whatever else these kids call art. the kids inhabiting the joint were what I expected; self-important dirtball artist types in their ironic urbanware about half my age sucking on Newcastle, Camels and cloves. my kind of fun. rrrright.

luckily I arrived only a few minutes before PINE*am started so I didn't suffer thru too much awkwardness beforehand. watched the band finish soundchecking. then they fired it up to wild snotnosed cheers. the audio was hurting due to the live amps and lack of decent PA in the apartment. I felt sorry for their sound man who was trying to make the best of it. despite the poor conditions, PINE*am rocked it and most of the 100 or so that crowded the room really got into the music. that was nice to see. after edging my way up to the front I took a few photos to share here.

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PINE*am gave about 40 minutes of electro-pop goodness, then packed up and tended to the merch table. of course I made it over there in a beeline and eventually Tsugumi, the lead singer/bassist, came over. it was humorous b/c she kinda understands English but not quite everything. so we played that game for a while as I picked up their earlier CDs, some stickers, buttons and a shirt. Tsugumi cut me a deal on the CDs so I figured I'd keep buying crap.

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as the primary English speaker of the group, Chiz (who translated for Tsugumi during the performance) , came over to man the table I spent the time chatting w/Tsugumi, who as it turned out could hold a decent conversation in English. I asked her how they ended up playing in the apartment at which point their sound tech looked at me with a muddled expression; with short pauses between each word he said, "I... have... no... idea." I gave him a sympathy laugh and continued talking w/Tsugumi who seemed genuinely excited to just be there.

when I pointed out some guy's kanji tattoo of "Nihon" (Japan) she asked if I read kanji and spoke Japanese. during the ignasecond before my reply of "chotto" (a little), I realized that was a mistake. Tsugumi smiles then suddenly starts rattling off Japanese a mile a minute all thrilled to speak in her native tongue. I, on the hand, just watched, listened, nodded and smiled. ^_^

after getting a photo taken w/the girls, I thanked them and wished them luck on the rest of tour (quipping that I hope they get better venues the rest of the way). said "bye bye" and split... right behind the guy w/the Nihon kanji tattooed on his arm. turned out to be a rather enjoyable evening despite the adverse conditions. hell, if PINE*am could light up that 2nd floor shithole apt, they could do wonders in a small club with the right audience. hopefully they come back to chicago for a better gig.

after that I went home and snagged Latios on my first attempt then stayed up late to read HUSH vol 1. Sunday I was up and going early again to do more work around the home. caught the first matinee of Unleashed, which might be the best Jet Li movie I've seen (and I've seen a hella lot of them). but not b/c of Jet Li. cool flick so go see it. picked up lunch at Amitabul and soaked in the rest of evening organizing and such. so nice to not have Japanese homework to do on a Sunday night! ~sigh~
is this thing working now?